Len Barker

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights


Indians 3, Blue Jays 0: Amazing! A perfect game for Len Barker! It was cold and damp at Municipal Stadium last night, so it must have been hard to hit anyway, but regardless, Barker’s stuff was incredible.  He never even reached ball three against any Blue Jay hitter.  This Barker looks so fantastic that I’d be fine with my Braves trading away, oh,  Brett Butler, Brook Jacoby, Rick Behenna and $150,000 cash for him two years from now.

At least I assume this game happened last night, as it was on the channel that normally broadcasts Indians games around here. I watched it and, because it is my job, I dutifully report it to you. Gotta admit, though: it’s strange that the Blue Jays would sign Danny Ainge at this point. He’s 52-years-old for cryin’ out loud.

Mets 9, Rockies 5: Carlos Beltran. Carlos Beltran. Carlos Beltran. 3 for 5, 3 HR, 6 RBI.  And I assume that there are still Mets fans who think he’s one of the team’s big problems. For Colorado: Ubaldo Jimenez walked six in three and two-thirds.

Orioles 2, Mariners 1: Wow! Both starters — Jason Vargas and Zach Britton — shut out the opposition for nine innings and neither got a decision. Then, after Seattle finally broke through for a run in the top of the 12th, Baltimore strikes back with a single, two straight hit batsmen (really, Brandon League?) and a walkoff RBI single by J.J. Hardy.  Thirty-year-old perfect games are great and all, but I’m kind of pissed I didn’t watch this one.  I don’t know what it was like live, but I’ve got a pretty good sense of box scores, and this one reads like a ton of fun for pitching and randomness junkies like me.

Braves 6, Nationals 5: There were times in both of the first two games of this series when I said to myself “man, the Braves had a chance to win this, and blew it.”  In this one all I could say is “the Braves had no business winning this one but did.”  Or maybe they did in some ass backwards way inasmuch as Martin Prado and Brian McCann and a host of other talented Braves hitters could not be expected to continue to not come through as often as they have not come through in key spots so far this year (believe me; as I write that sentence on Thursday evening, it makes sense to me).  Anyway, a Prado grand slam tied things up in the seventh and a Brian McCann RBI single in the 10th won it, averting the sweep at the hands of the pesky Nats.

Royals 11, Yankees 5: A good old fashioned woodshedding. This series win for Kansas City has to make some of us who have been assuming the Royals will simply wither and die take heed.  They beat the crap out of the ball, and holding the Yankees to 11 runs in three games in their home park is pretty impressive in its own right. Oh, and Eric Hosmer: 3 for 5, 2B, HR and 3 RBI.

Giants 3, Diamondbacks 2: Matt Cain allowed two runs on seven hits in seven and two-thirds. And check out this throw by Nate Schierholtz to nail Gerardo Parra trying to stretch a single into a double. Mercy.  That’s six straight wins for San Francisco.

Rays 7, Indians 4: I hit this one up yesterday.  Rather strange to have a day-night double header with two different teams, but whatever. Kind of shocked not see Joe Charboneau play both ends of this one.

Cardinals 9, Cubs 1: Another great start for Jaime Garcia, who ups his record to 5-0 with a 1.89 ERA. Not too strong for Casey Coleman, who continues to be a disaster. Jon Jay fills in for Lance Berkman in right and goes 3 for 6 with a double and 3 RBI. Maybe it’s just something about right field on the Cardinals this year.  Either way, doppelganger Tony La Russa approves.

Dodgers vs. Pirates: POSTPONED: I try to tie all of these into a rain theme of some sort, and the first thing that popped into my head here was “I bless the rains down in Africa” from the Toto song “Africa.”  Which then led me to find this wonderful, irony-drenched cover of “Africa” by Low. And no, no amount of irony can atone for lyrics like “sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.”  Note to simile writers: when the thing you’re comparing something to (Olympus) is less impressive than the thing you’re comparing (Kilimanjaro), your simile has failed.

Cardinals take 1-0 NLDS lead over the Cubs behind John Lackey’s brilliant outing

John Lackey
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
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John Lackey flirted with a no-hitter but settled for 7 1/3 terrific, shutout innings to beat the Cubs in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday. The right-hander held the opposition to two hits and a walk while striking out five. Lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist struck out two to finish the eighth without issue. Closer Trevor Rosenthal worked around a one-out walk and a two-out single in the ninth to seal the 4-0 win, recording all three outs on called strike threes.

Lackey brought a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but lost it quickly when Addison Russell hit a ground ball single up the middle to lead off the frame. Russell would steal second base but was stranded.

Opposing starter Jon Lester wasn’t too shabby himself, relenting three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out nine in 7 1/3 innings. The first run came around in the first inning on Matt Holliday‘s RBI single, which followed a one-out double by Stephen Piscotty. Tommy Pham pinch-hit in the pitcher’s spot in the eighth inning and launched a solo home run off of Lester to double the Cardinals’ lead. Lester walked Matt Carpenter before exiting. Pedro Strop came in and promptly served up a two-run home run to Stephen Piscotty.

The closest the Cubs came to scoring was when Dexter Fowler sent a deep fly ball to right field with a man on base and two outs in the sixth inning, but Randal Grichuk caught it with a foot or two to spare in front of the fence on the warning track.

The two clubs will play Game 2 of the NLDS on Saturday at 5:30 PM EDT. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and oppose Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia.

Astros err in letting Scott Kazmir start sixth

Scott Kazmir
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Scott Kazmir went winless with a 6.52 ERA in six September starts. He allowed 41 hits, eight of them homers, in 29 innings, posting an 18/11 K/BB ratio. When the Astros got five innings of two-run ball from him Friday against the Royals, they should have thanked their good fortune and moved right along to the pen.

And they knew this. They must have. Josh Fields got up in the pen after Kazmir issued a one-out walk in the fifth. The left-hander got out of the frame, making himself eligible for the victory in what was then a 4-2 game, but it was still very surprising to see him come back out for the sixth, particularly with the switch-hitting Ben Zobrist (.926 OPS against lefties) and right-handed Lorenzo Cain due up.

Kazmir retired Zobrist, but he gave up a double to Cain. He was then pulled, even with the left-handed Eric Hosmer coming up. Manager A.J. Hinch had committed my biggest baseball pet peeve: he sent his starter back to the mound with the idea of pulling him after his first mistake.

It worked out terribly. Oliver Perez gave up a pair of soft hits to Hosmer and Kendrys Morales before walking Mike Moustakas. Fields then entered and walked the unwalkable Salvador Perez to tie the game at 4. The Astros gave up another run in the seventh and lost the game 5-4.

Maybe that’s the way it would have worked out anyway. Kazmir did give up just the one baserunner. It might not have even harmed the Astros if Perez had better luck.

Still, the thinking that went into the decision was disturbing. It’s always better to bring that reliever in with no one on base when you can. That’s especially the case with this Astros pen, which lacks a double-play specialist, much less a Wade Davis. But anyone in that pen would have been a better choice than sending Kazmir out to face Zobrist and Cain for a third time. Hinch needs to be more aggressive going forward.

Cardinals’ giveaway incorrectly claims ownership of 2001 division title

cardinals logo

The Cardinals have won so many division titles, it’s tough to keep track of them all. At least, it would be tough if it weren’t for Baseball Reference.

40,000 rally towels were given away to fans at Busch Stadium ahead of Friday’s NLDS Game 1 against the Cubs. The towel listed all of the years the Cardinals won the NL Central… and 2001. That year, they tied with the Astros for the best record in the National League at 93-69. However, because the Astros won the season series 9-7, they were awarded first place and the Cardinals took the Wild Card.